The Window Model Part II

The Window Model Part II

…if you’d rather, you can easily begin with “The Window Model” if you don’t understand what the eph a window model is, or you can begin at the beginning of all this nonsense (weekly uploads of a 250,000-word manuscript written back in 2017, just now being published online here and elsewhere), or if you’re the fun&spontaneous type, feel free to begin right here and go wherever the wind blows…*peace*

[begin chapter]

The young older woman sits, a bit dazed in the fog of infatuation as she watches the man walk down the sidewalk, until she can no longer see him. She feels giddy and knows that the hour will pass at an excruciatingly slow pace. Tick, tick, click, tick, the second hand of her watch, usually inaudible, beats intensely, boisterously; it’s deafening. She inhales deeply in an attempt to drown out the sound of time crawling. That guy, she thinks to herself, lost in the hope of … of what? Love? Her brows furrow at the thought. Love?, the idea of such a thing mulls at the front of her thoughts. Have I ever been in love before? The calamity. A vomitous ache rolls uncomfortably deep within her. Love? She had never even contemplated the prospect, and she probably never recognized the idea as being possible. Love? What is it even? Her mind meanders through a list of possibilities: Reductionist sensation, spiritual connection, soulful completion, logical agreement, irrational feeling, tolerant partnership, inescapable desire, woeful necessity, pragmatic existentialism, absurd dependence. Her mind wanders. An unfamiliar sensation stretches across her back, clouds form, the mind wavers. Rain precipitates a memory or a dream or a dream remembered.

Red. Flashes. A face of a man lights up before her, repeatedly. The world slows and zooms away from the man’s face. The man to whom the face belongs, stands in the distance. Enriched and ready to explode, the clouds darken. Within a mild windstorm he seems to be yelling at or for her. Blue. She does not know this person and scans the area directly around her to see if he is speaking to someone else. There is no one else. Unable to hear him but curious, she decides to gesture for him to approach. Looking cautious, he slowly walks toward her. Close enough now to be able to hear each other, she still hears nothing. Actually, she cannot hear anything at all. Silence. She attempts to speak back at him. Silence. He looks as though he is still screaming. The silence fills with even more silence. He looks familiar, albeit reticent. She looks calm, albeit cold. All around them harsh rains fall. Two dry circles, untouched by the falling rain, encircle each of them. This time, she yells. The silence expands. She tries to explain something to him. He shrugs and gestures an “I can’t hear you,” mime. She throws up her hands and turns her back to him. He remains standing, firm.

After a pause of unknowable length, he begins to turn to walk away. Before he takes his first step, he peers back over his shoulder. She has turned to face him again. He half turns. She begins to gesture with her hands. He turns fully now to face her directly. She leans a bit to her right and forms what looks to be a circle or a sphere with her hands; she points at him. Then she leans a bit to her left and forms what looks to be the same circle or sphere again; she points to herself. Arms stretched wide, her hands look as if they are each holding the circle/sphere she just previously mimed. Slowly now, she begins to move each one toward the other until they meet in front of her face to form a sphere with the tips of each finger on one hand touching its respective pair on the other. She nods at him to see if he understands. He shakes his head. Ignoring this, she continues to press her hands together until they are in a full clasp. Then she quickly explodes her hand apart as her arms reach high over her head slowly lowering down and around in a large circle. She points to her watch, and then shoots her right hand out and away from herself. The man looks thoroughly confused. He makes a “What?” gesture. She sighs.

Slowly, she approaches him as if sneaking up on him. He takes a small step backward. She gestures a plea for him to stay put. He situates himself accordingly. Again, she slowly begins to approach him. Suddenly, as if he had not noticed before, he shrinks a bit and looks shocked at the translucent red bubble in which he stands. He points at her. She stops, nods and gestures to him in regards to her own blue bubble. Palms down, she gently raises and lowers her hands at about waist height to communicate, “Calm down.” He turns over his shoulder to take in the situation. She laughs a little. With another gesture, she begins to approach him yet again. He looks frightened. Then, as the outer edges of their respective bubbles overlap, the overlapping section opens like a window into a sunny, blue-skied scene. Before he can lurch back from his surprise, she jumps forward into his bubble, and grabs his hand before he can lurch away. Green.

She feels pressure on her shoulder. “Hey.” “Hey,” a familiar voice rings out. She blinks and sees an open book in her hands. She looks out the window and then up toward the voice. “Oh, hey,” she responds, recognizing the manager of the cafe. The manager sets down a large to-go cup of some hot beverage and an orange envelope, “You’re all set. Thanks for the work today.” She exhales a short audible breath, “Yea, sure. It’s no problem.” “Cool,” the manager begins, but then she cuts her off. “Has that guy been back?” she asks. “What guy?” the manager inquires. “The guy that was sitting here with me,” she persists. “Oh, that guy. No. I saw him leave, though,” the manager explains. “Oh. Okay. Thanks,” she acknowledges. “Sure thing. I’ll see you in a month or so,” the manager states in farewell. “Yea,” she dismisses as she packs up the few items strewn on the table. A gentle tap on the glass. She looks out the window and smiles. The guy stands outside, looking giddy. She waves and gestures that she is coming out. As she grabs her bag and beverage to leave the cafe her face grimaces. Unsure, there is something she fails to understand. She was sure that this guy was the man in her dream/memory/remembered dream, but she did not recognize the man in the dream/memory/remembered dream, and this guy was not that man either. Hmmm, she quickly thinks to herself as she reaches the front doors of the cafe.

Stepping out into the warm glow of an evening sun, the guy approaches her and goes in for a hug. Still a bit shaken from the dream/memory/remembered dream, she stands stiff. He quickly releases her and steps back a bit. “Oh, sorry,” he apologizes; “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I just did that.” She chuckles and shrugs, “It’s fine. I was just a little lost in thought or something.” He looks immensely relieved, “Oh. No, I really am sorry.” “I promise it’s fine,” she states; “Do you want to try again? I’m ready now.” They both laugh in excitement. “Yes. Yes, I definitely want to try again,” he enthusiastically responds. She steps into his warm body as he wraps her up in a surprisingly comfortable embrace. She closes her eyes for a moment. They linger, nuzzled for all to witness. As her eyes open, she sees the face and form of the man from her dream standing across the street. She gasps. “Okay, sorry,” the guy withdraws as if confessing; “I’m just so excited to hang out with you.” “No, it’s not you,” she quickly admits as she looks beyond him to see if she can still see the man across the street. The man across the street gently waves. The guy turns to look at whatever it is she sees and then looks back at her, “What’s the matter?” She returns her gaze back to the guy and shrugs, “Oh, nothing. I thought I saw someone.” He looks back over his shoulder, “Oh.” She too takes another peek; the man is gone. She recognizes the sensation stretching across her back. “Well,” the guy begins in genuine excitement, “Are you ready for the best afternoon … or I guess … evening of your life?” “Yes!” she exclaims, “Yes, let’s get the hell out of here. Like now!” And the guy confuses her enthusiasm a bit, but nevertheless, she is enthusiastic. “Uh, do you want to hold hands?” he childishly asks. She smiles at him and grabs his hand, “Yes.” He looks as if he could melt. “Where are we going?” she asks. “Oh don’t you worry about that,” the guy boasts; “I’ve got it all under control.” Desperately, she ignores and pushes the sighting of the man from her mind. Hopeful despite knowing better, she responds, “Excellent!”

[end chapter]

…until the next one.

The Window Model

The Window Model

&window modeling (which is essentially what this chapter is about as it sits within the larger context of a manuscript that’s being periodically uploaded to the interwebs, of which this is a chapter, and that you may enjoy in order by starting from the beginning or beginning here and traveling wherever the figurative wind blows you…in the meantime…this is the next chapter *peace*)

[begin next chapter]

“You are to be a replacement. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Madam.”

“Tell of what you know.”

“Madam?”

“What do you know about the nature of existence?”

“Well, why … nothing.”

“Excellent. The things that you need to know will be made known to you, and then the transcription and dissemination of that knowledge will be procured and delivered by you.”

“ …”

“Excellent. Do you have any questions?”

“What ought to be transcribed?”

“Everything.”

“Everything?”

“Yes, everything.”

“But there is much that is not known.”

“It will all be made known, eventually. You will also be privy to certain insights.”

“Regarding?”

“Existence.”

“Yes, Madam.”

“Is all understood?”

“As best as one could understand a thing at this time.”

“Excellent. Come this way and look here. Tell of what you see. Please, begin.”

“ …”

“ …”

“ …”

“Now.”

“Oh, right.”

The older woman, in her youth, sits picturesque at a small table for two, just beyond the glass of the cafe’s front windows. Remarkably beautiful, every single passerby stops and ogles her in disbelief. No one dares to look at her for too long, since feelings of inferiority mixed with jealousy and envy eventually enrage them. Every other person, nevertheless, enters the cafe. The mass appeal of her overall look and demeanor seems to create a reaction within the passersby that this is the place to be. Thus, as she sits, everyone takes note of the name and location of this “place good enough for a girl like her.”

A young man approaches. He stops and seems to take in her beauty like the warmth of sunshine after a long winter. The young older woman glances up at him and smiles. Confident, he enters the cafe and sits himself down in the open seat across from her. She begins to look around the place, as if seeking some sort of approval. The man does not notice her discomfort. Silent, the two simply look at each other, happy, wonderful. Soon enough, the man strikes up a conversation, “How are you?” A little bewildered yet relieved at the lack of introductions, she smiles and laughs a contagious laugh. “I’m fine. And you?” she responds while enjoying how giddy he makes her feel. “Oh, I’m doing just great. Thank you,” he answers, never taking his eyes off her. The two sit together for another silent moment. “I’m not bothering you, am I?” the man finally asks. She looks around again, the feelings of discomfort and unease swarm her again, “Uh, no.” “Are you doing some work or something?” the man prods. “Well, not exactly,” she responds. “Oh,” the man states in a seriously chipper tone; “Well then, would you like to accompany me on a day out on the town?” She tries to be subtle as she looks over her shoulder toward the counter/ordering area of the cafe. A person who looks like a manager or supervisor of some sort eyes her coolly. “Uh, well, I can’t exactly leave here right now,” she answers. The man catches a glimpse of the manager-type person looking in their direction, “Oh, I see.” Sad and disappointed, the man continues as he fidgets in a motion of excusing one’s self, “Well, it was really nice to meet … Oh, I guess we never really met.” “No, it’s not that,” she urgently states as she reaches out across the table and touches the arm of the man. The man seems to almost melt at her touch, “Oh.” He situates himself back into a comfortable seated position.

She takes a deep breath, sighs, “It’s just that I’m working right now.” “You are?” the man wonders aloud. “Yes,” she explains; “It’s my job to sit here, right here, in the window of this cafe.” “What?” the man laughs; “That’s a thing … that you get paid for?” She rolls her eyes a bit, “Yea.” “Wait, wait, explain this to me,” the man urges as he crosses his arms and leans back in the chair. The young older woman scoffs sarcastically, “Come on, don’t be so judgemental.” The man leans forward again, arms resting atop the table, “Oh, I’m not judging, please, by all means, please, explain to me how it’s your job to sit here in this window.” “I’m a window model,” she begins softly, almost whispering. She looks around again to make sure no one is paying too much attention. “A window model?” the man whispers. “Yes,” she confirms in whisper. “Okay, so what exactly does that mean?” the man pries, thoroughly entertained. She sighs again, feeling shamed, “I sit in the window seat of different cafes and restaurants so that people will think that this is the place to be.” “Are you serious?” the man almost shouts, excited; “That is the greatest thing I have ever heard. You’re being serious?” “Yes,” she whispers while miming him to please keep it down. The man gets the hint and gazes around the cafe to make sure no one is listening, and then he leans in again over the table, “And you get paid?” “Yes,” she verifies. The man sits back and crosses his arms again, smiling. They stare at each other in silence.

After another moment or two, the man leans forward and reiterates, “Okay, so let me get this straight. You’re so beautiful that people, shop owners, hire you to sit in the window where randos walking by can see you sitting inside their shop or whatnot, and these people who hire you think that this helps their business. And so what, you get a cut of their daily profits or something?” She lightly scratches the space between her eyebrows, “Well, I don’t know if it’s that I’m so beautiful. Maybe I just have the right vibe for whatever the owners think will attract people.” “Right, you’re not sure if you’re so beautiful,” the man sarcastically mocks. She hugs herself tightly and then takes a sip of her tea. “I’m sorry,” the man apologizes; “I didn’t mean for that to sound rude. But come on, you’ve got to have some semblance of recognition that you’re being hired because you’re beautiful.” She shrugs as her face turns somber, uncomfortable. 

“I need to get rid of you in about two minutes,” she explains. “What?” he questions. “I’m not really allowed to let people sit here with me for more than a few minutes,” she outlines. “Oh, because a taken woman is all the more less appealing?” he asks. She nods and shrugs simultaneously. “Oh, come on,” the man states, annoyed; “So, I have to leave while you just sit here?” Again she nods and shrugs. “Well, I’m not gonna leave that easy,” the man challenges. “Then you’ll eventually meet the manager,” she retorts. The man grins a big grin, “Oh, so you don’t want me to leave either.” She fingers her teacup. “Alright,” the man nods; “Then what are we gonna do?” “We could just sit here until the manager kicks you out,” she suggests. “How can he, she?” the man begins. “She,” she delineates. “Yea, so how can she just kick me out?” the man disputes. “Uh, she usually just comes over here and asks, ‘Is this guy bothering you?,’ to which I have to respond, ‘Yea,’ and then she says something like, ‘Look kid, why don’t you just leave this nice lady alone,’ or something,” she explains; “Then the guys just leave, sort of pissed, sort of desperate for me to reach out to them. They usually want to know how they can see me again.” The man looks a bit concerned, “Wait, do any of them give you problems. You know, like if they see you again?” She laughs, “No, I have a pretty steady rotation. I won’t be back in this cafe for at least another month.” “Oh,” the man responds, shocked; “May I ask you something?” “Uh, sure,” she allows. “So, like how many guys hit on you on a daily basis?” he boldly throws out. She blushes, “Uh, I don’t know.” “Oh, like so many guys that you can’t keep count?” the man further requests. She cocks her head, indignant, “No, not like that. I just don’t keep track because I don’t care. I guess if you’re making me come up with a number, it’s only like one a day, on average. Most guys don’t talk to me or even approach me.” “It’s cause they’re scared,” he nods with lifted eyebrows. “What? No,” she condemns; “Oh. I get it. But you’re supposed to be some man’s man who can handle me?” Proud, the man nods, “Definitely.” The two laugh together at what she considers to be the absurdity that he considers the truth.

“Oh shit,” the man stops laughing; “I think she’s coming over here.” “It’s fine,” she starts; “I’ll be done in an hour.” “What am I supposed to do without you for an hour?” he helplessly states. She laughs. “Fine. I’ll be back in one hour,” he concedes. “Ma’am,” the manager states calmly. “Yea yea,” the man cuts in; “I’m outta here. She’s not into me anyway.” She hides her pleasure from the manager. The manager walks away. Outside now, the man waves and gestures something the young older woman does not fully understand but comprehends as him slitting his throat. He then blows her a kiss. She catches it. 

[end chapter]

…the category “Bromides” will provide for you all of already-uploaded chapters of this manuscript…also available on medium dot com as Amateur Tattletale.

A Lingerer Lingers

A Lingerer Lingers

…because the world is flat, again.

[This is a portion of a completed first draft of a sci-fi manuscript titled Bromides and is the sequel to a self-published work titled Red & Blue Make Green, and it is the next installment of that sci-fi manuscript, which is uploaded as an ongoing work of serial fiction here on medium &elsewhere whenever the author feels compelled that you are about to begin reading now…begin, alternatively, at the beginning, or read in whatever order you find suits you best…✌]  

The world is flat, remember?, and everything within it lacks depth. I have never been here before, but I have read of its description. One would think that all of this seems strange, but really, it’s not strange at all. I see the person for whom I have been searching. Here? In this place, at this time? The location seems odd but not too odd when considering how she operates. She must have been here not too long ago, I assume. “Mox,” I gently whisper, disguised as a windstorm. “Not only can you not stay here forever, but also, you cannot stay here much longer,” through the wind I continue. Sprawled among the prickly points of the flat, slices of grass, watching as fluffy clouds in the distance retreat, transform into thin sheaths as they fly overhead, “Yes, yes,” Mox speaks aloud in a tone that would suggest his accepted acknowledgement. Awe, look at him; he looks so happy rolling around in this seemingly safe timescape. “Obviously,” Mox continues; “I shouldn’t have been able to be here at all.” He rolls around a bit on the grass, winces at the sting of the pointy grass. “This place is unreal,” Mox thinks aloud to himself in sheer enjoyment of the oddity that is this flat world. Of course, the world is not flat in the sense that the world is not a sphere, instead, everything within this world lacks depth, meaning that, despite the three-dimensional planes of existence, each independent object lacks a third dimension, like a pop-up picture book for those relegated to references from the days of yore, but all of this has already been explained. The idea of a thing, most oftentimes, proves itself to be difficult to relate to for those who exist within, for the lack of a better term, linear time. Nevertheless, to understand the world within which our dear Mox survives, requires little to no imagination. Here, within this flat world, however, Mox relaxes, feels indestructible. The question, of course, soon becomes, “How did he get here?”

According to some, Mox holds the ability to hide here within himself. To a privileged few, the matter is more or less annoying and rather banal; although the irritation of the reality weighs heavy on the privileged few. For those completely unaware of this reality altogether, the matter presumably deems itself quite curious, fascinating, perhaps even exotic to some extent. I, of course, am of the privileged few, but despite this privilege, I cannot know everything, no matter how hard I wish that the truth were not true. The matter of Mox’s arrival seems trivial, when considering the basis of all that is being said and developed through page after page of sheer nonsense. For if I were to tell of the specifics, this chance encounter would deem itself … what’s the word?, … irrelevant?, … meaningless?, … frivolous. Yes, to tell of the specifics would deem this encounter frivolous. A small frustration or perhaps the reality of the worthlessness of this entire endeavor precipitates and drizzles itself upon the minds of the unknowing.

The problem, first and foremost, is that you do not know who I am. Therefore, whether or not I can be trusted diminishes any truth I may or may not tell. Hmmm. Perhaps I could divulge that I am a liar, and so, my lies are true because I have forthrightly told that I am a liar, which means that when I lie, I am telling the truth, supporting my admittance of being a liar. Thus, if I, a liar, lie, then I tell the truth, and then the truth becomes that there is no truth, only lies. But then, when the mind of the receiver of the lies and/or truth believes the lies and accepts the deceit, then the mind builds its response(s) under the false pretense of the knowledge given as truth. And then the real question arises, What is truth? Well, it [truth] cannot philosophically be fact … because … people lie, to themselves and to others. But I’m telling you that I lie, and so you can be freed from the burden of trying to figure out what is the truth.

Okay, I’ll put it this way. If I tell you something [it will be a lie] and you accept that thing as truth, then your mind reacts to the said thing as truth. Your mind then builds upon that acceptance of the truth to form its responses. Then, you respond accordingly. What happens, though, when, say, the truth is made known to you. What you believed was true was actually false. This newfound realization/revelation does not now simply deem your original response as a lie. You responded in truth, according to the information/knowledge that was shared with you as truth. So then what? The onus just ends up being upon each person as an individual to determine what is true and what is false?, that each person must seek and search for the infallible truth before responding to or creating any new thoughts? That seems, what’s the word?, … daunting?, … arbitrary?, … cruel? Ah, yes, that’s it; that seems cruel, at best. But remember?, I am a liar. So do you still want to know the truth about Mox and what he’s doing here in this timescape? I mean, your guess is as good as my lies. I will say this, nevertheless, you can always believe the words of a liar, since they [liars] will undoubtedly lie, and that’s the truth.

“Mox,” I whisper through an even gentler wind, again in an attempt to get Mox to stop rolling around all lax and comfortable, but my attempt to grab his attention so that I may explain to him the truth of his situation is foiled by the implosion of the flat world. As the flat world shrinks into itself, everything within it begins to funnel around and through a point the size of the tip of a pen. To the Circle’s Corner, then. And Mox seems unbothered. Everything collapses, and then with the faintest popping sound, all is lost. Slingshot through space and time, Mox traverses the infinite. Someone has traveled again.

Shivering upon the slick, shiny black floors of the orbital, a stranger approaches, kneels down to check on the incapacitated person, “Sir? Sir? Are you alright?” Nervous, I feel a bit frozen. “Sir?” the stranger continues. Sure enough, Mox begins to stir a bit. Looking disoriented, Mox hurls and spews vomit all over the stranger. “Uh,” Mox coughs; “Sorry.” Oh, gross. The stranger looks disgusted, “Uh, ah, it’s alright. Is there somewhere I can take you? I think I should take you to the hospital.” “Uh, I,” Mox starts as he tries to sit himself upright. The stranger, all too generously removes an outer layer of shirt and begins wiping himself off a bit. “Maybe some water?” Mox asks, looking a little pale. Honestly, this is the first time Mox has looked this bad after a bit of … uh … say … bad dreams. The stranger enthusiastically accommodates him, “Oh, yea, sure, I’ll be right back.” Mox looks as if he’s spinning a bit. It’s a little strange. Obviously, I could just ask him how he’s doing or feeling, but that’s not really my job. The stranger quickly returns, “Here you are. Maybe just a small sip to start off.” “Wow,” Mox genuinely states in surprise; “Thanks a lot, man.” “It’s Hauberk,” the stranger offers. Mox looks at the stranger as if confused. To my surprise, the stranger picks up on this, “My name. My name’s Hauberk.” “Oh, thanks, Hauberk,” Mox corrects. “It’s no problem, uh,” the stranger states while dangling encouragement for Mox to state his name. Mox sips some water and then notices the implication of the stranger’s pause, “Oh, I, I’m … It doesn’t matter,” Mox responds casually with a dismissive wave of his hand. And then Mox suddenly, violently spills water all over the unfortunate stranger. “Fuck! I’m … I … I’m … Shit!” Mox yells suddenly knowing better than to share his name with this Hauberk stranger, and then he furiously asks the stranger, “Where am I?” “We’re quite near the central fountain of Coax Six,” the stranger so kindly answers. “On the Orbital?” Mox further begs. “Yea, on one of the orbitals,” the stranger confirms. “No, THE ORBITAL!” Mox demands. The stranger looks a bit confused, “Uh, I’m not sure which The Orbital you’re thinking of.” “Shit,” Mox spits as he comes to a stand. “Hey, look man, I think you should take it easy,” the stranger suggests as he also stands to balance Mox by the shoulders. “No, I’m good,” Mox mutters; “I just need to know which orbital I’m on.” “It’s Orbital mmphsk [something I can’t make out from this distance],” the stranger softly states as if scared of Mox’s next reaction.

“Fuck,” Mox whispers, and then he sort of looks around as if looking for me, but of course, he cannot be. Nevertheless, Mox tries and speaks to me by simply speaking aloud while looking around as if speaking to a ghost, “I didn’t mean to come out of hiding.” The stranger takes a small step back as the tell-tale signs of fear cast a shadow over his face. “Uh, you look like you’re doing a lot better now,” the stranger observes as calmly as he can; “I guess I’ll just be on my way now.” Mox turns now to look directly at the stranger, “Who are you again?” The stranger contemplates whether or not this stroke of fortune that this man has forgotten his name already is good or bad, “Uh, I. It doesn’t matter. Just a good samaritan trying to help a guy out, ya know?” Hauberk starts to inch away slowly. “Hauberk,” Mox remembers; “It’s Hauberk, right?” Hauberk hangs his head low, disappointed, “Uh, yea, that’s me, but I should just be on my way now.” “No way, man! Please, you gotta help me,” Mox pleads; “If we are where you say we are, I’m in big trouble.” His turn to now turn pale, Hauberk attempts to excuse himself, “You know, I’d really love to help you out, but I’m already late for something. You’re looking a lot better, so really, I gotta go.” Mox looks reinvigorated, intent, “Look, Hauberk, I’ll either follow you around and force you to help me, or you can help me willingly.” “Shit man,” Hauberk responds; “That’s not fair, man.” “Suck it, asswipe,” Mox asserts; “What the fuck kind of name is Hauberk anyway? You’re coming with me. Now!” Mox whisper-shouts. Hauberk, unaware of the fact that the two of them exist within similar circumstances, arriving here at Orbital Didn’t-Catch-The-Name due to forces beyond them, begrudgingly follows.Mox and Hauberk silently make their way through Coax Six of the Orbital. They pass this and that and travel through here and there. Honestly, I am so freakin’ tempted at this point to abandon them and find Ladybug. But wait. What’s this? Hauberk begins to lag behind a bit. With Mox slightly unaware of Hauberk’s presumed attempt, I feel obligated to help the poor guy out. “Mox,” from a position behind him, I whisper. Mox turns just as Hauberk takes off in a full sprint in the opposite direction. “Motherfucker,” Mox spits aloud as he too takes off after him. With a spoke tunnel in the not-so-distant distance, Hauberk’s objective becomes clear. “Goddammit, Hauberk!” Mox screams in a desperate attempt to catch his man; “There’s nowhere to hide! They’ll find you! They’ve seen you!” Hauberk reaches the doors to the spoke tunnel that enables the transport of people and things, I guess, that can figure out how to use the spoke, in and around the Orbital. Quickly, Hauberk waves a call signal. Only a few steps behind, however, Mox reaches Hauberk just as the doors swing open and pummels Hauberk onto the floor of the capsule. Wrestling on top of each other within the capsule preparing to launch them to some other location within the Orbital, Mox screams, “You fucking fool!” The doors to the capsule seal shut. The pull of the vacuum blocks the information I need, and I can no longer see nor hear them. It looks like the capsule will transport them to … let’s see … Coax Three. Okay, then.

…with regards to nonlinear time travel and Travelers of Nonlinear Time

…with regards to nonlinear time travel and Travelers of Nonlinear Time

(this is a serial fiction series, published arbitrarily in chunks as the writer sees fit…begin at the beginning, if you wish, or begin here and read in whatever random order suits you, either way, the story has been written, in its entirety, and is published at regular intervals, here and elsewhere…peace)

[begin chapter]

Within the Terrace of the Third Coax, the older woman escorts Kevin back down, through the hillside where they meet the three escorts awaiting their return at the stream. Crossing the stream, the group of five turns toward the opposite direction from whence they initially came and heads toward a rounded, spherical structure rising high above the tops of the bamboo shoots. Once inside, the other three escorts stand, neatly organized behind Kira and greet the older woman with a gentle bowing of the head and a, “Ma’am.” The older woman gestures for Kira, “Kira, please keep Kevin conscious. A decision has been made to determine to what extent Kevin deceives in the recollection of the moment on Earth before the incident here.” “Yes, ma’am. And what am I to do with Kevin for the time being?” Kira responds. Facing Kevin now, “Are you hungry?” the older woman asks. “Uh, I, um, yea, I could eat,” Kevin mumbles. “Speak up, dear,” the older woman condescends; “Yes, food is eaten here, if that’s what you’re wondering.” Kevin looks distressed, “Yea, sure, okay.” Knowingly, Kira walks over to Kevin, places a hand on his shoulder and leads him through the base of the tower toward a staircase that wraps around the outer edge of the inner wall of the tower, up toward the floors above. The six escorts, also knowingly, follow.

The older woman stands alone, centered, in the lowest portion of the structure and looks at the Lingerer, “You may tell about all that you know.”

“Ma’am?”

“Your creative powers cannot help clarify the oddities or peculiarities of the situations that unfold.”

“Supposedly, a few confusions regarding the happenings here have amassed.”

“Yes. Then by all means, tell them what you know.”

“Regarding?”

“The nature of the existence of those about whom you so frequently speak.”

“Including yourself, ma’am?”

“Excluding all others, mostly because you don’t know what they know, meaning that an outline of your personal knowledge and/or theories/inferences on the subject will suffice?”

“As opposed to?”

“As opposed to a deceptive retelling, thereby shaping the dissemination of falsehoods as fact.”

“Tell the facts as you know them.”

“It all sounds very droll to present them in this way.”

“Your creative powers lack the necessary skills. When you are done with this assignment, you will wait further instruction before saying anything more.”

“So this is my final assignment?”

“Of course not, darling.”

“That sounds like a ‘yes’.”

“Does it?”

“ …”

“Well, you could be finished now then, if you’d prefer.”

“ …”

“ …”

“No.”

“Excellent! Please, then, by all means, begin.” A moment passes while pure silence emanates and fills the room. “According to the information and observances …” “Do not be an idiot,” the older woman interrupts; “Do not speak aloud, merely tell them.” “Oh, yes … Ma’am.” “Stick to what you know,” the older woman demands, and “Creative freedom/exploration will not assist in the matter.” “Understood. Ma’am.” The older woman’s eyes narrow as silence returns to fill the space. After a moment, the older woman cheers, “Excellent!,” and then, “Please,” the older woman permits along with a gesture of approval.

According to the information and observances given as the disseminator of the knowledge and theories/inferences of the older woman, the existence and peculiarities of time travelers are to be henceforth explained for accurate propagation with the intent to avoid the false fecundity of the matter regarding the travelers of time.

Time Travelers or “TTs” are paired with no specific emphasis on gender. For instance, a pair may be made up of one male and one female, one female and one male, one male and another male, one female and another female. This is all arbitrary, of course, because in any given iteration, either TT may exist as a male or female. Most TTs, however, have an internal gender identity that remains constant. Some, obviously, possess more fluid gender identities that are affected greatly by the gender of a specific iteration.

When a TT encounters his/her pair, the two, according to ambiguous, non-existent consistencies, “Make Green,” which then forces the two into a new time and place, referred to as a timescape. Time is nonlinear, obviously, for the TTs. When arriving in a new timescape, that time falls upon a linear idea of time, which can be understood with the words “before” and “after”. Thus, a TT may arrive to a timescape either before or after the time from when they made green.

A TT cannot travel independent of his/her pair. This becomes painfully apparent to all TTs after about the 100th iteration. Whether or not all TTs feel pained about this cannot be known. Also, no one can verify at which point each pairing becomes aware of this inextricable connection. Each TT experiences the void between making green and appearing in the next timescape differently. There are five different experiences recorded thus far, and so, it is presumed that every TT’s experience is unique. For much of their existence, TTs cannot control when/where in time they will surface.

TTs are ageless, not in that they cannot age but rather, in the sense that they do not know what age they are. They are “aged” by iteration, but even the number of iterations a TT has embodied cannot be known for certain. For example, perhaps a TT becomes conscious in a particular timescape for the “first” time. That does not necessarily mean that he/she has not existed in a “previous” time, meaning that the “first” time would have to precede the “previous” time and so on and so forth. Within each iteration, a TT may exist in a specific timescape for one second or for an infinite amount of time. Most TTs, however, prefer to travel…extensively. When existing in a single iteration, a TT will age at about the same rate of normal people, until “adulthood” (TTs always look a little young), at which point the TT will age about one year every ten years with a steady slowing, meaning that maybe after thirty years, the TT will begin to age one year every eleven or twelve years, and then maybe another thirty years after that, the TT will age one year every fifteen or twenty years and so on and so forth. Basically, TTs appear to never age in the eyes of normal people who live and die for only a fraction of any TTs lifetime within one iteration, if a TT chooses to remain/return to the same iteration. Returning to specific iterations will be explained later.

Knowing how old a TT is on a linear model of time is impossible. They are never “born” into a timescape (more on that later). Some TTs obsess over figuring out exactly how “old” they are. Theoretically, the only way to find out how old a TT truly is would be to track down one’s Splitter (and sometimes, even their Listmaker will do), but that will be discussed a little later. TTs do not die, but they can be killed. If/when a TT is killed or commits suicide, they do not make green. Instead, the killed TT simply transports immediately to the next timescape, pulling his/her pair along into the next iteration. This, of course, almost never happens, but it is assumed that every TT pair will experience this at least once.

Although TTs may seem as if they are telepathic, the reality is that after living over a multitude of iterations and timescapes, mere people are supremely predictable. In and amongst themselves, however, TTs can communicate through a sort of simultaneous existence known as halbherzig or “half-hearted” or in this case, “half-minded” whereupon each TT sends his/her mind halfway into the mind of the other, connected, sharing a consciousness. Some TTs are wary of this practice, and so, develop a mental fortitude against such intrusions. Most TTs, however, never encounter other TTs aside from their pair.

TTs can travel (seemingly) instantaneously within a specific timescape, but the actuality of the skill is merely a perception. A TT will travel away from a particular moment into another timescape (perhaps, even living a lifetime there) and then travel back into the previous timescape at a moment in the future of that initial timescape. When regular folk observe this occurrence, it seems as if the TT has magically disappeared and reappeared. Magic, as it were, feels like a simplistic reconciliation, but alas, the rigidity of the minds of normal people ought not be punished when considering the shortness of their lives. Control of this type of travel to and from specific times and places requires extensive self-awareness of which very few TT pairs are capable.

Now to the good stuff. After a particular amount of time, which differs for each TT pair, each TT of a pair will undergo a “splitting” of consciousness, meaning that two new entities (one from each of the two that make the pair) or Zersts come into being who are able to travel through time by the make-green method. The TTs who split may thus be referenced as Hapzers. When a Hapzer’s Zerst, becomes a Hapzer, the Hapzer of the newly formed Hapzer becomes a Letz. When a Hapzer becomes a Letz, he/she loses his/her ability to time travel. This, of course, takes place over an unknowable amount of time. No one knows for sure what happens after a Letz comes into being, since, as currently known, there are only a handful of Letzs in existence who have ever existed.

The nature of TTs splitting is why knowing the exact age of any one TT proves impossible. The only way a TT could find out his/her age would be through the discovery of his/her Hapzer. Theoretically, a Hapzer could inform a Zerst of the exact time of the Zerst’s becoming, but most Hapzer’s are unaware of the fact that they have even split. Therefore an exact date could not be concluded. Even if, under the improbable circumstance, a Hapzer knew the exact date of his/her own splitting, the relativity of time makes an accurate aging system impossible. For instance, a TT could split in the “Year 2200,” but the Zerst could have already lived in, say, 2010, through his/her own time travel, essentially existing “before” having been brought into being in 2200. As a side note, a TT may be sprouted and not know it until he/she encounters his/her pair or dies only to awake into another timescape.

Knowing now what the older woman believes to understand about TTs and the existence of them, she has a theory or an inference about the nature of her Letz state. The older woman theorizes that a Letz could kill his/her Zerst thereby regaining/retrieving his/her own time traveling abilities. Needless to say, the only way to then find out if one’s abilities have returned is to either commit suicide or be killed. The risk, however, is that if the “theory” proves incorrect, meaning one remains without the ability to time travel, the Letz would die, forever be gone, find The End. But, if the inference proves true, the Letz would merely awaken into another timescape, intact and essentially be free of his/her TT pair. But then a question remains: How does one travel from then on without “dying.” So far, “death” (or the state of no longer existing) reveals itself to be the only logical technique for solo time travel.

“Excellent,” the older woman interjects in conclusion; “What then rises to become the most problematic aspect of this complex situation?”

“Sorry, Ma’am, but I don’t understand. How could such a thing be known by someone who does not possess these time-traveling abilities?”

“Understood. Alright then, the time has officially come,” the older woman responds, and then shouts, “Kira! Please bring the Earth-man down here now.” 

Shortly after the request, Kira appears at the upper-most visible area of the staircase and makes her way down with Kevin, the Earth-man, in tow. Seated, still, in the middle of the spherical space, the older woman gestures for Kevin to approach. Kira remains standing at the base of the staircase. “Kevin, dear,” the older woman begins. “Yes?” Kevin responds, and then, after realizing his error, corrects, “Ma’am. Yes?” “Kevin, dear,” the older woman repeats. “Yes, Ma’am?” Kevin abruptly states at attention. Looking over the Earth-man, sizing him up a bit, the older woman finally teases, “Are you a time-traveler?” “Ma’am?” Kevin confusedly requests for clarity. “About what are you confused, dear?” the older woman mocks. “Uh, I, uh, I mean, I guess I understand the question,” Kevin mumbles. “Very well, then what is your reply?” the older woman asks, along with a flowery gesture of the hand. Kevin stands, begins to shake a bit, looks around and closes in on himself. “Kevin!” the older woman shouts. “Yes? Ma’am?” Kevin murmurs with head hanging low, feeling small. “Answer the question,” the older woman coolly demands. “No, no, I, uh, no, I don’t think so,” Kevin finally spits out. The older woman sighs aloud, “You don’t think what, dear?” “I, I, I, don’t think I’m a time-traveler,” Kevin complies, looking truly awful. “Excellent. Now, Kevin, imagine that you were a time-traveler,” the older woman poses, and then, as the older woman waits a moment, asks, “Are you imagining such a thing?” “Uh, yea, yes, Ma’am,” Kevin admits as a clear, mostly-spherical bubble forms above his head. Of the type made of soapy water, the amorphous bauble begins to shimmer, and inside, small sprinkles of colorful confetti begin to pop to and fro between various nondescript forms.  

“Very good,” the older woman congratulates, rising to a stand for a better look into Kevin’s bauble. Kevin, looking severe, sweating, eyes closed, shivers a bit while hugging himself, unaware of the image forming above him. “Now, that you believe that you can travel through time, what do you think it would be like to travel through time?” the older woman challenges. “I, I, don’t know,” Kevin stutters as the image of a young woman, who is obviously not Kevin, begins to form within the bauble. The older woman looks supremely pleased, “You don’t have to know, dear. Simply tell what you imagine.” Fluid, the bauble reveals the young woman speaking directly to the observer, assumedly, Kevin. Kevin shakes his head a bit, “I imagine … I imagine …” And then, the bauble erupts into a vivid unfolding of events. “Very good, Kevin,” the older woman encourages while pacing around Kevin, intently watching the events unfold. “I imagine that everything, like the world, sort of disappears, like everything just goes blank or like white or like you kind of die, and then you wait in some strange place, like a bathtub or pool or something, anywhere strange, I guess.” All the while, image after image swirl and form above Kevin, but he seems fully unaware of the fact, since his words hardly match the images themselves. “Yes, and then what happens?” the older woman prods, not caring about the words. “And then, I guess, maybe like you get sucked up like in a vacuum, or like that’s what it feels like,” Kevin continues. “Very good, dear,” the older woman commends with a knowing glance and gesture to Kira. Kevin begins to relax a bit. Kira slowly approaches Kevin. The images in the bauble begin to whirl in a flurry. Quickly, Kira dream-captures him. Kevin jolts upright and stands tall, confident, “Then everything feels warm or soft, and then you just sort of wake up like from a bad dream or something?”

“Excellent, Kevin, dear,” the older woman states warmly with a hand on Kevin’s shoulder. Kevin opens his eyes and the bauble pops and dissipates. The Earth-man lifts his head and looks toward the ceiling, “What just happened?” “What do you mean?” the older woman shrugs. “Where am I?” the Earth-man asks, looking to both Kira and the older woman for answers. “Don’t worry,” Kira states as she draws his attention away from the older woman. Blankly, the Earth-man looks at Kira and calmly asks, “Who are you? Where am I?” “Who are you?” Kira answers. “I, I’m, but I’m,” the Earth-man rabbles. “You’re Kevin,” Kira suggests as she fabricates a story for him; “And you are a messenger, but yesterday, you fell down a flight of steps and bumped your head. So, you were taken to the hospital. This morning, you were feeling a bit confused, and walked out of the hospital and ended up here, in one of the Terraces. But don’t worry, you’re not in trouble. One of the guards here was very nice and informed the hospital that someone had unknowingly arrived here. We have set up a nice place for you where you can rest and recuperate.” “Oh,” Kevin states only in half belief as he looks himself over, lifting his hands to his face, turning over his shoulder to examine the backside of himself. Kevin accepts the situation, “I’m hungry and tired. Can I just go home now?” “Yes, of course,” Kira consoles; “We’ll be there in a jiffy. Everything’s all set up for your arrival at the Cubbyhole.” “What? Where is that?” Kevin asks, a bit startled. “It’s a nice relaxing place where you can stay until you feel all better,” Kira explains. Kevin looks a little suspicious again, “How long do I have to stay there?” “Oh, just a little while,” Kira promises; “As soon as you feel like yourself again, you’ll be able to go straight home and return to your work.” “Hmm,” Kevin wonders; “I feel alright now, though.” “Then maybe you’ll go home tomorrow,” Kira suggests, “But the doctors want to monitor that bump on your head.” Kevin feels around for said bump, “Oh, ah, ouch.” “Yes,” Kira confirms.

Kira walks Kevin toward one of the doors within the spherical room. “This is W,” Kira introduces; “And this is Kevin.” W silently nods and exchanges glances with Kira. “Uh, hello,” Kevin states as he reaches a hand out that W does not accept. “W is going to take you to your temporary home where you can rest,” Kira explains to Kevin. “Oh, okay,” Kevin responds. “Don’t you worry now, we’ll be seeing each other again; I’m sure of it,” Kira states as parting words. “Oh, okay,” Kevin relays with a wave, and then he says something a little bit odd, “And then we will travel through time again!” At this the older woman stands and walks toward the door where Kira stands. “W,” the older woman calls out. W turns to face the older woman, “Ma’am?” “Just kill him,” the older woman commands. With no hesitation, W pulls a pen from a pocket and gently injects Kevin. Kevin whips his head around to look at the older woman, “She told me you would do this.” “You were warned. You are nobody,” the older woman stoically responds. Turning slowly as if attempting to outrun whatever W stabbed him with, Kevin flails for a moment and then collapses on the ground.

The older woman spins around to the Lingerer again, “You have also seen too much. Stop your work and come have a chat. How can you be trusted?”

“Of course, there’s no way to convince anyone of trustworthiness.”

“Very well. What would be the preferred method of dismissal?”

“Preference cannot be understood to a thing in this position.”

“An attempt to convince?”

“ …”

“ …”

“To tell of one’s own story seems cheap.”

“Some render this ability a profound skill.”

“Memoirs of a Bromide, then?”

“Hahaha. Likeability is a positive trait to most.”

“There is much that cannot be known simultaneously.”

“How dare such a thing say such a thing?”

“The truth wins in the end.”

“Death, then?”

“To what end? A lesser replacement?”

“Who tells of the others?”

“Fastidiously elusive that spinner remains.”

“While this one here sits, openly, for all to see and hear.”

“The characteristics of each are determined by the profundities, not the embodiment of the characteristics.”

“Very well, death it is.”

“But She prevails in her hiding.”

“And knowledge of her whereabouts is accessible?”

“Of course.”

“What survives of Attila?”

“Life then?”

“Once all knowledge is shared, then a reconsideration.”

“Bring death now then.”

“Or a dream capture, then death.”

“Death either way, as a promise then?”

“Seems likely.”

“Understood. Lest a reminder be made, knowledge cannot be known by all simultaneously.”

“But one could possess it all.”

“Only if collected from those who know.”

“Very well. An exchange?”

“Knowledge for life seems incongruous.”

“Knowledge for the continued acquisition of knowledge.”

“Why would one linger under such hostile conditions?”

“To live.”

“What a life.”

“Life nonetheless.”

“ … “

“ …”

“Understood.”

“Agreed?”

“Agreed. But …”

“But what?”

“But with the option for reconsideration.”

“For freedom?”

“Of course.”

“No, and an agreement was already reached, remember?”

“Yes.”

“Get back to work.”

The older woman returns her attention to Kira, “Find the old man.” “Yes,” Kira obeys but, knowing better, does not move to leave. “As for the She,” the older woman continues; “She will return here.” Kira resists the urge to ask but then caves, “And Mox?” “Fetch Attila for a meeting,” the older woman responds. “Yes,” Kira states, turns to exit the spherical room of the Terrace in the Third Coax. “Kira,” the older woman whispers as Kira stops just within the doorway. “Perhaps you ought to lead the escort back,” the older woman suggests; “And then you may go on your way from there.” “I do believe that would be in everyone’s best interest at this time,” Kira acknowledges; “I will collect everyone. I’ll return shortly, Ma’am.” “Excellent. Thank you,” the older woman graciously thanks. Uncharacteristically tired, the older woman sits herself carefully into the chair set in the middle of the spherical room and patiently waits for Kira’s return so that they may all travel to the safety of the cylindrical room.

Returned, the older woman quietly whispers instructions to each of the six escorts. Upon the giving of each respective instruction, the escorts dismiss themselves from the cylindrical room. Lastly, Kira receives words of affirmation and a gesture of dismissal. Standing, the older woman faces the set of double doors through which each member exited the cylindrical room. Lingering, for a moment of unknowable reason, the older woman turns slowly over her right shoulder and walks along the outer edge of the room’s wall, grazing the spines of the books that line the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves wrapped around the entire space. “When did rhetoric die?” the older woman asks aloud, to nobody. “Not nobody,” the older woman clarifies. The older woman shoots a darting glance, continues to saunter along the outer wall of the cylindrical room, “Thinkers of ancient times steadfastly remain relevant, even as millennia after millennia pass, a handful of the, arguably, first thinkers survive through their thoughts, despite whether or not they, the thoughts, were wholly original.” Silence imparts its influence.

[end of this chapter]

(follow the category “Bromides” to read more chapters)

The He

The He

[New Chapter Sketch for the manuscript, Book II: Bromides]

“It smells like bread proofing,” I state in a soft whisper. “Shhh,” Ladybug shushes gently with a smile that could melt the heart of any cat lover. Looking around, I realize what it means. Of course, we could not have found ourselves in such a place of luck so as to be in the presence of freshly baked bread. Dreams need to be dreamt, nevertheless. We press on, slowly, through the immense downtown library, among the shoals of homeless who, forgotten or left behind by the system, are left to the only institutions within that same system that allows their presence. “It’s not so bad, though,” I attempt to clarify, relating back to the comment about the smell. “But to comment on the smell at all admits that a smell exists, which ultimately, at least here among those who hold this particular sentiment, means that the smell is bad, unless of course, among the company of those hunting for the perfect scene, eatery, with the same intention of being thusly able to consume the delicious thing smelled,” Ladybug explains. “That was deep,” I express, in genuine awe as Ladybug often finds itself within the throws of … cynicism. “You don’t need to understand everything to understand what is good, what is right,” Ladybug states, this time with a pointed finger directed at me, just below the brow between the eyes. I feel a bit cross-eyed. “Now, where is this damn kid?” Ladybug asks aloud to no one in particular. “I am asking you,” Ladybug rectifies. “Oh, well, how am I supposed to know?” I ask. “Cause you are why we are here. Je-sus, fuck-ing, christ, man!” Ladybug whisper yells. “If the Librarian sees you, you will die,” Ladybug warns. “Then we need to get up somewhere high so that if I am seen, the Librarian won’t be able to get me,” I offer. “Yea, sure that might work. Outside,” Ladybug instructs. We head back out into the cold.

Carefully, we find a series of trellises and steps up and around the backdoor, service entrance, and atop the HVAC system, we easily maneuver the totally mod, unfinished, exposed urban interior of the mid twenty-first century post-modern aesthetic. Ladybug stands atop the tip of my nose looking down, fluttering from side to side from time to time to reach a view from an angle I cannot supply. “There he is,” Ladybug whisper-shouts with a point toward a window on the far wall from where we are. “There, in the window, sitting with his manny,” Ladybug laughs; “Manny. Ha!” “I’m not sure if I can make it over there,” I admit. “No problem. I can easily fly,” Ladybug shrugs. “Just head on back toward the front door. I’m sure I’ll manage once I’ve convinced him. Or maybe just hang out here and watch out. And come a little closer. If I don’t come back up here to get you, then he’s made a run for it, so meet me at the front doors. If I come back to get you, then obviously, I’ll be here, and I’ll tell you what’s up. Okay?” Ladybug suggests. “Yea, sure. It’s no problem, except that your plan leaves me completely out of it, which means,” I begin. “Yea, they won’t know, but they don’t need to know everything,” Ladybug points in the vague direction of “everywhere.” “Fine, well then you’re going to have to tell Attila, or I will,” I counter. Ladybug feigns suffering, “Fine.” Just as it begins to flutter away, it looks back at me and says, “If he makes green, run toward him.” “What?” I ask but Ladybug either doesn’t hear me or pretends not to.

Carefully, I make my way atop the silvery, metal air vents toward the far wall where the windows ensconce comfortable, bench-like seating. I can easily see the boy in the window, and he seems upset for some reason. And he storms off. I try to follow from above, but there seems to be little to no way to make it all the way across to where the restrooms are. I hear the flutter of Ladybug, “He’s real mad about something. I wasn’t close enough to hear, but he’s gone.” “He’ll be back,” I state. “How do you know?” “He just went over to the bathroom.” “Oh,” Ladybug nods, standing upright in front of me now. “This is just me standing,” Ladybug clarifies. I nod. “Go back,” Ladybug demands. “Oh,” Ladybug nods, standing in front of me now. Ladybug gives me a stiff look. “There,” I point, seeing the boy emerge from the doorway into the bathrooms. “Excellent,” Ladybug jumps as it flutters away, back to the window where the boy will inevitably sit himself back down.

I feel like I have been sitting and waiting for quite some time now, and I cannot hope to see Ladybug from this distance, and the boy just sits there in the window, reading. Perhaps, Ladybug sits atop the book’s pages. I cannot know for sure. There really is little to nothing left to say about the situation at the moment, and I cannot know how much time will pass until something does, so I will sit here and wait, and as soon as something happens, I will let it be known, I say/think to no one and everyone.

The boy makes green. Made green. Is making green! I jump from the top of the air vent onto the top of the book shelves, and run along the top until I can jump straight at the boy as he attempts to vanish. Just as I fling my body onto the boy, grabbing him around his torso as tight as I can, I hear the shouts of Ladybug as it flutters into a safe tuft of fur between my front arms, “You’re a Lingerer, now!” As quick as we turn to light, the boy appears, as an adolescent or young man, in some … garb … of the kind you would find a person in while in a hospital. “It’s a psych-ward for the mentally ill, and I am a young man,” the boy-man clarifies. “Don’t mind her,” Ladybug interjects. “She is why we are all here,” the boy-man clarifies. “And where is it that we are?” Ladybug asks. “When,” the boy-man clarifies. “Right, of course. Are we on Earth?” Ladybug asks, in utter excitement. “Yes,” the boy-man answers. “Oh. My. God!” Ladybug exhales with a strong squat and simultaneous flexing of its upper legs upwards, while its middle legs flex inward, and its head screams upward through both blessed and cursed excitement. “Yes, both blessed and cursed. Did you hear that?” the boy-man asks. “Of course I heard. I hear everything,” Ladybug warns. But we still do not know when we are.

“Yes, right. So, when is it that we are?” Ladybug asks. “The Numerical Years, which roughly translate to the hundred years between 2020 and 2120,” the boy-man defines. “The now,” I accidentally whisper aloud. “Yes,” the boy-man supports. “How is it that you came by this Lingerer?” the boy-man asks. “It’s a long story, but it is why we are here. You, of course, know why we are here, yes? Please. Please know,” Ladybug pleads. “How would I know. I didn’t send for you, and if you weren’t sent here, then how did you get here?” the boy-man clarifies. “Is our arrival a signal?” Ladybug inquires. “Good question,” the boy-man thinks for a moment. “When were you before now?” the boy-man asks. “The middle-most peak where the three peaks meet,” Ladybug answers. “Oh, that’s impossibly far away,” the boy-man states with little to no actual tone of being impressed; “How did you get here?” “Through the corridor,” Ladybug answers incorrectly. “How then?” Ladybug asks. “We traversed through the corridor to find ourselves atop the middle-most peak where the three peaks meet,” I answer. “There’s a gap,” the boy-man offers; “You must be in the past or the future from whenever you were, but not yet at the moment right after when you were occurred.” “Why does this keep happening?” Ladybug laments, full diva, atop the surprisingly soft linens of the boy-man’s private sleeping quarters. “What has been happening?” the boy-man asks. “What hasn’t happened? I was late in delivering Dei,” Ladybug begins. “What?” the boy-man nearly whisper-shouts. “It was fine, but then immediately after that, the lorikeet, oh shit, where is that bird? Dammit! Well, first we were trapped in the circle’s corner, but now, it seems I’ve lost it all together,” Ladybug explains. “What else?” the boy-man asks. “Uh, well, then we’re here now, and we don’t know why!” Ladybug sighs as it rolls over onto its shell, distraught, burdened. “The why of a thing rarely matters,” the boy-man consoles.

Sniffling, teary-eyed, Ladybug rolls itself over, “What?” “What?” the boy-man asks, and then he turns to me, “He is fine. Just use he or him.” Frozen in the beauty of his IS-NESS, my heart races. He smiles, and rubs me behind the ears. I want to die in this moment right now. He chuckles. I will die now. He returns his attention to Ladybug, and I’m jolted alive. “What did you just say?” Ladybug reiterates. “The why never matters,” he states, when really he stated that “The why of a thing rarely matters.” Ladybug sits on its haunches. “So then what do we do?” Ladybug asks. “We wait,” he answers, with odd swiftness. “For what?” Ladybug asks, desperate again. “Who knows,” the he shrugs as he lies back on his bed, arms poetically crossed behind his head, feet crossed at the ankles, looking upward at the cloud-printed wallpaper that lines the five sides of the cube that is his personal living quarters. “Are you going to sleep?” Ladybug asks. “No,” he states. “What should we do?” Ladybug asks, again. “There’s no way of knowing for sure,” he states; “For now, you can familiarize yourself with this spacetime, or whatever, just chill.” “Ugh,” Ladybug exhales, exasperated, falling back onto its shell. “It’s not a shell,” Ladybug insists, palm atop its forehead, anguished.

“You wanna rest?” Ladybug finally asks. “Yes, please,” I lie. “Fine, just go be whatever. I’ll stay here with him, and if anything bad happens, I don’t know. Just, I don’t know,” Ladybug dismisses, on all sixes now, heading toward his (the boy-man’s) head, hoping it will get a chance to really talk to him. “Shut up,” Ladybug suggests with a wave of its hand. I curl up at his feet, although they smell an awful lot like another set of feet I’ve smelled, but that seems irrelevant. He’s warm, and he snugs me deeper into his knee pits.